Access to Care

A successful EMS system ensures that all individuals have access to emergency care regardless of their ability to pay or type of insurance coverage. Often the EMS system is a patient's only point of entry into the health care system. As pressure increases to control health care costs, patients may be discouraged by a variety of sources from accessing the EMS system for perceived emergencies. Emergency physicians must serve as patients' advocates on this issue to ensure that patients access the system in a timely fashion.

A more difficult problem exists when population densities or terrain dictate longer response times for some citizens than others. EMS councils must be able to handle such inequities, which are, both politically and economically, difficult to adjust. Typically, EMS councils are advisory bodies to county boards or other political entities. An informed, representative governing body ultimately makes the best decisions.

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